The Federal Member for Hunter, Joel Fitzgibbon, said rate payers across the Hunter electorate would be worse off after the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, slashed vital funding to local councils.
Mr Fitzgibbon said the Abbott Government had ripped more than $900 million in funding by cutting the Financial Assistance Grants (FAGs) indexation arrangements leaving local councils with less money to maintain roads as well as deliver local community services.
“It was confirmed in Senate Estimates last week by an Australian Government official that local councils would ‘need to reshape their budget in terms of no longer having access to that indexation factor’,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.
“With less money for roads and less money for local services, councils will need to look at other ways of broadening their revenue base by increasing council rates.
“Local councils will also have to look at other ways of managing the cuts to their budgets by considering staffing cuts, reducing vital local services and increasing charges.
“There is no doubt an added financial burden has been put on the rate payer to fund Tony Abbott’s cuts.”
Mr Fitzgibbon said higher council rates and charges would be in addition to the cuts Tony Abbott has made in his Budget to health, education and family payments.
“A $7 GP tax and higher petrol prices will also hit the hip pockets of many people in the Hunter electorate.
“Pensioners will also feel the impact of these cuts as they no longer will receive discounts on their rates as Tony Abbott has also abolished the pensioner concession agreement with the NSW Government.”
Mr Fitzgibbon said there would be a disproportionate impact on smaller regional and rural councils with their heavier reliance upon FAGs to maintain roads.
“How does Tony Abbott think smaller regional and rural councils will sustain their level of services to rate payers?,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.
“This Budget has been designed for other levels of government to do the heavy lifting and local councils and their rate payers have not been spared by Tony Abbott’s cuts.”